“If only ____.”
Odds are, you can fill in that blank many times over.
“If only I had a boyfriend.”
“If only I had more money.”
“If only I lost 10 pounds.”
“If only I were closer with my parents.”
Living in “if only” leaves us grasping for a present different than our own. “If only” makes us think we have control over the outcome. “If only” is wanting. And, according to Tara Brach, wanting goes hand-in-hand with not getting. The stronger the wanting, she says, the greater the suffering…the suffering of clinging. The wanting, the “if only,” the clinging takes us out of the present moment and pulls us into this energy of grasping.
We want for things that we think will bring us closer to happiness. We even want people to change because we think a change in them will bring us closer to happiness. Brach’s Buddhist teaching tells us that it’s okay. What a relief, right? It’s okay. Our natural state is to want for things. The way we deal with that wanting makes all the difference.
Brach prescribes a cocktail of forgiveness and investigation. Forgive yourself for getting wrapped up in the clinging, for grasping so hard your knuckles are white. And look into what is pushing you to the wanting.
If your “if only” is “I had a boyfriend…” then look into that. Perhaps, there is the desire for companionship, understanding, intimacy. Once you understand what it is you are pining for, at the basest level, you can come back to the present and look into your life now, and see where those things already exist. Perhaps you have an amazing network of friends or a particularly understanding co-worker.
The Thrivivalist offers this: Forgive yourself for the attachment to your desire. Of course you want things, and you want things to be different. Investigate what you’re really looking for; once your true desire is clear you may find you already have it somewhere elsewhere in your life. And from a place of understanding, clear the pathway, release your limiting beliefs, changing your thinking to ignite a shift at your core. And allow the love to come in.